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A helical head for under $300?

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Review by mckenziedrums posted 1580 days ago 8179 views 7 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
A helical head for under $300? A helical head for under $300? No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’ve seen a couple people post about the Accu-Head cutter heads but I’ve yet to actually see a true review of it…

Back Story: A few months ago I was getting rather frustrated with my Ryobi planer and without the funds to buy a new $500 Steel City planer (the least expensive helical planer that I know of) I decided to pull the trigger on this upgrade. The Accu-Head.com website isn’t exactly faith inspiring but knowing they make the heads for the Steel City I figured I should be OK. My new cutter head showed up in about a week and has been sitting around in the garage now for several months waiting on me to actually get motivated to install it.

Installation: Make sure you’re comfortable with taking things apart… I tore down my planer shortly after this came in and due to the cold weather the bearing froze up a bit inside the housing. Took some work with a hammer and punch to get it out and involved quite a bit of frustration due to fairly tight tolerances. The new cutter head has it’s own bearing but you will need to get the pully and nut off of the original one without damaging them. If you’re installing in a Ryobi 1301 like I did please note that the side with all the pullies might have be removed if you can’t slide the old cutter head out so you can get to the bearing with the punch. Should you have to remove it, I’d suggest taking the 4 corner bolts out and leaving the housing for the gears in one piece. Lots of nasty packing grease in that thing ;)

Verdict: Nothing scarier than hitting the power button on a couple thousand rpms of sharp spinning steel that you put back together right? ;) In any case I grabbed some rough cut curly maple and decided to give the planer a hard time. I took a huge cut out of the wood and it barely even slowed down. Wood chips flying everywhere and a pretty darn even cut with very little tear out of the curly maple. When I backed the depth of cut off it produced super smooth boards with very little need for sanding. As with other helical heads the cutting process has gone down several decibels as well.

My recommendation: If you’ve already got a planer sitting around that they make an upgrade for, seriously consider this. They shipped it with some spare cutting inserts and the replacements are that expensive. Unlike some of the more expensive models these are 2 sides so you at least get to rotate them once before scrapping the high speed steel cutters. Would have been nice for them to be 4 sided but for less than half the price of some of the competition I won’t complain.




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mckenziedrums

118 posts in 1656 days



25 comments so far

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Jim Bertelson

3622 posts in 1763 days


#1 posted 1580 days ago

Thanks for the review. Don’t know much about this topic, but now I know a little more…..........(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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mckenziedrums

118 posts in 1656 days


#2 posted 1580 days ago

Note to self: Still need hearing protection.

One thing I’ve just noticed as I was working on getting 7 very rough cut boards into usable lumber… The lack of a height lock on the Ryobi doesn’t seem to be an issue any more. With the straight knives you could watch the handle of the height adjustment turn as the cutter head was forced upwards. Those of us familiar with this planer probably all just do the same thing and try to keep a hand on it to keep it from spinning. I haven’t had a single problem with it moving on me in the hour or so I’ve been planing.

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woodnewbee

76 posts in 1705 days


#3 posted 1580 days ago

Will make note. thanks for the review, I have a Ryobi and wondered if there was a way to upgrade without purchasing a new planer. Problem is I wouldn’t get a new tool which seems to be half of having the shop. lol Thanks again for the review.

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Brad_Nailor

2531 posts in 2556 days


#4 posted 1580 days ago

Great review..you are a better man than I gunga din..I wouldn’t have the guts to pull a planer apart and replace the head, and then have the guts to flip the “on” switch!

-- http://www.facebook.com/pages/DSO-Designs/297237806954248

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mckenziedrums

118 posts in 1656 days


#5 posted 1580 days ago

Hahaha oh believe me I thought about possible consequences and made sure I didn’t have any extra screws and bolts laying around. I pulled it apart 4 months ago and somehow managed to not lose any pieces between now and then.

I spent a little more time today taking some finer cuts from this soft curly maple and it’s shaving it down with hardly any lines and without tear out. If you don’t have a planer yet the Steel City makes sense but I have to say for $250 + shipping this is one heck of an upgrade for a bench top planer. Anything more than that (aka: the other helical heads) and you’re on your way towards owning a better planer anyways.

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Drew

136 posts in 1699 days


#6 posted 1580 days ago

The Steel City looks good on paper (and reviewed well), but know one really knows what is going on with the company right now.

-- That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” ― Aldous Huxley

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b2rtch

4287 posts in 1647 days


#7 posted 1580 days ago

Where did you buy it?
The accu head website does not work.
Thanks.

-- Bert

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Brad_Nailor

2531 posts in 2556 days


#8 posted 1580 days ago

Your solution although it takes some skill and bravery to take apart the planer is definitely the cheapest. That Steel City planer is an EXACT copy (except for the helical cutter head) as the older Rigid 13” I am using (borrowing from a friend). I like this planer allot, the cutter head lock works well, it doesn’t snipe at all. The Steel City is that planer with the addition of a helical cutter head I think would be the perfect combination. I am planning on buying that planer regardless of what I have “heard” about the stability of that company. Besides I have been hearing stuff like that about Steel City for a long time now and they seem to still be producing machinery.

-- http://www.facebook.com/pages/DSO-Designs/297237806954248

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mckenziedrums

118 posts in 1656 days


#9 posted 1580 days ago

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b2rtch

4287 posts in 1647 days


#10 posted 1580 days ago

Thank you.

-- Bert

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mckenziedrums

118 posts in 1656 days


#11 posted 1579 days ago

My pleasure.

Brad: It really isn’t THAT difficult to take a planer apart… Just some confidence that you can reverse the process. You only need 2 allen wrenches and a screwdriver for the Ryobi. I can’t remember the smaller of the two allens but the larger one (and most important) is a 4mm. If you’re REALLLLLLY lucky and the cutter head will slide out all you have to do is remove the parts from the side where the belt is. I could do a quick write up on how to do it I suppose.

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dbhost

5378 posts in 1831 days


#12 posted 1579 days ago

This begs a stupid question. Why not post the AP1301 on Craigslist for $150.00 ish and just pony up and buy the Steel City? I have the AP1301, and it’s a good planer for the money, but I can’t imagine putting a $300.00 cutter head on a $200.00 planer…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

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bigike

4031 posts in 1887 days


#13 posted 1579 days ago

thanks for the idea amd link i hope they have one for my planer! ;)

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://www.icombadaniels@yahoo.com

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mckenziedrums

118 posts in 1656 days


#14 posted 1579 days ago

I paid $100 for this planer 2nd hand… The cutter head was $250… Truly it’s the cutterhead that makes a planer anyways I think. In reality a planer is just a flat surface with a spinning cutter above it. The quality of the planing will be primarily determined by that cutterhead. I’m simplifying it a bit but that about sums it up.

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dbhost

5378 posts in 1831 days


#15 posted 1578 days ago

True, and mind you I have an AP1301 and love it, but it does have some annoying lacks. Specifically lacking the cutter head lock, and lacking infeed / outfeed tables…

Still seems like an expensive upgrade to get a planer that still lacks some very desireable features…

Maybe I just don’t understand what the helical cutter head gets you that is worth that kind of money.

I’m not trying to be rude or anything, just trying to make sense of this… I mean I am pretty happy with my planer as it is, but if I were going to upgrade it, I would try to lay my hands on an AP1300, or the older cutter head lock equipped Ridgid or similar. Or save up my pennies for the DW735… Is the helical head upgrade all that impressive? What does it fix that you didn’t like about the OEM configuration of your planer? I doubt it does anything to fix the snipe issue with this planer, but I could be wrong. That is the only thing I have found with mine to be a real issue…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

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